Paganism: Promising promises and resentful esults

Chris Fleming, John O'Carroll

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Paganism is a worldwide phenomenon, though rarely aware of itself as such. That is, paganism is sometimes self-aware: it sometimes labels itself as paganism. It is also often implicit, however, an organising logic behind an ostensibly diverse series of practices, beliefs, and attitudes. In its most self-conscious, explicit form, contemporary paganism claims firstness for itself'as the Ur-religion, a variety of indigeneity, and therefore, a generative centre of authentic culture and personal experience. Contemporary paganism's PR says that paganism is a manifestation of the sacred in its pristine, prelapsarian state, which is to say, of culture and personhood, before these were sundered from nature. The identity of the supposed sunderers vary: they include: (1) individual thinkers, like Descartes, who becomes the very evil demon he strove to exorcise; (2) vaguely threatening ideologies, such as 'the Cartesian-Newtonian worldview' (Capra 73); and (3) quasi-historical periods, like 'the Dark Ages,' during which humanity buried its best instincts beneath the rubble of already-rotting European superstition and prejudice. Paganists see such influences as degenerative, in that they engender pernicious varieties of dualism, perhaps even dualism itself. In the pagan salvation narrative, paganism is capable of eschewing both kings and (domesticated) horses in order to put Humpty Dumpty (or Gaia) back together again.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalAnthropoetics: the journal of generative anthropolgy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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